Genre(s): Schoolgirl Idol, Drama
Aired: Jan 2014 to Mar 2014
Also known as: WUG!
Summary: Wake Up, Girls! follows the internal and external struggles of being a small-time idol girl band, from finding and accepting gigs to competing in popularity against other pop bands.
The girls also come to accept their pasts as well as becoming more certain about their futures. Faced with increasing stakes and popularity, each of the group’s seven members must find the strength and courage inside herself to give her all to the group.
Review: If you watched the movie, then you already know what you’re getting from these 12 episodes. For those of you who skipped the prequel movie, Wake Up, Girls! is exactly what the series summary implies: a (relatively) gritty schoolgirl idol series.
What separates the anime series from the first movie is the increased focus on characterization. Instead of being these 7 girls who really just wanted to become schoolgirl idols for one reason or another, they become more fleshed-out characters with hang-ups and insecurities. Each member gets at least one episode that is at least mostly dedicated to her and we’re able to witness each girl develop into more nuanced and confident characters as a result. In other words, the girls essentially come together as an unified group, instead of this ragtag bunch of individuals, after they come to terms with their own selves.
That being said, some characters can act/be insufferable at times. Even though I really wanted to like Yoshino, for instance, the way how she ended up comparing herself to Mayu and how she was intentionally being impatient with the former I-1 Club center was rather irritating. While rivalries between fellow group mates aren’t uncommon within bands or schoolgirl idol groups, it was incredibly one-sided and slightly unhealthy. At least Yoshino grows out of it eventually.
Some of the plot points that were introduced in the movie were resolved, but a few were left unfinished. Good thing there’s two more movies that follows this series, right? Well, that being a “good thing” is definitely debatable, but I think it gives the viewer an incentive to watch more.
The animation quality dropped even further compared to how it was in Shichinin no Idol. I read that the director was forced to recruit animators on Twitter since they were lacking in staff and it shows. It passes as average in some cases, but it’s largely subpar in other instances.
In regards to the music, Wake Up, Girls! manages to pick up three more songs and they are all bangers like the one song they learned in the first movie. Even though they may lack quantity, Wake Up, Girls certainly has quality!
The yuri vibes definitely picked up slightly in the anime series (Yoshino x Airi is pretty strong!) but the frachise really isn’t about that.
An engaging series that continues the (relatively) realistic outlook regarding the idol industry that originated with the prequel movie. While some may disagree with how the girls end up having to confront their pasts or themselves in order to progress, I think Wake Up, Girls! had plenty to offer in regards to meaningful messages. It also suffers from subpar animation, but at least the music and insert songs are fun to listen to, right?